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Climate change and capitalism: A hand-in-glove relationship

Just like the world gathered in 1948 to lay down the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a charter of climate change has to be laid down

With the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, some concrete steps have been taken by many states to reduce dependency on fossil fuel for energy consumption. However, a holistic approach is needed to combat climate change at the structural level and make a universal policy regarding carbon emissions.

Just like the world gathered in 1948 to lay down the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a charter of Climate Change has to be laid down, which addresses the political, economic and social responsibilities of each nation state at all levels. One of them is to reform capitalism and consumerism. The individualistic, profit-oriented system of capitalism comes at the cost of collective good and puts survival of humanity in jeopardy.

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Someone once told me that just like the five fingers of a hand, there are five gods that humans worship by default: power, wealth, estate, women, and like a pharaoh the fifth is himself, when he attains the rest of the four. Same is the case with climate change, this greed for power, wealth and hegemony of nation states at the global level and corporations and individuals at societal level comes at the cost of the survival of humanity in the context of climate change. For example, according to CIA’s fact book, 70 percent of USA’s energy needs are met through fossil fuel, while China’s energy dependency on fossil fuels is 88 percent. Since both are at odds with each other in the political and economic spheres, neither will be willing to lessen their dependency on coal because it is a matter of maintaining hegemony.

Capitalism has been one of the major reasons behind world wars and it is still one of the reasons why the world is losing the war against climate change because it creates an unprecedented competition between competitors that often comes at the cost of survival of humanity. The world needs to draw a line today, it needs to reform capitalism so that there is a healthy competition among states but not to the extent where even the collective good is put in jeopardy.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) protocols need to be amended and trade tariff should be reduced for those states, which are taking concrete steps to combat climate change, while MFN (most-favoured nation) protocol should also be amended so that carbon tariff can be added to the products coming from those states that are not taking active measures in the war against climate change. Similarly, at the state level, governments need to impose carbon tax on those industries that do not comply with climate change prevention goals.

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Global financial institutions such as IMF and World Bank also need to support the cause and provide debt relief to those states that are taking steps to stop climate change. If we are to save our future generation from the miseries that climate change will bring, we have to work together under a holistic approach.



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